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Special Feature: Mao Today: A Political Icon for an Age of Prosperity


Sebastian Veg
p. 2-3


When Yan Lianke published his novel The Joy of Living (Shou huo) in 2004, in which a gang of disabled villagers sets out to make enough money to buy Lenin’s embalmed corpse, many readers may have been reminded of the seemingly boundless symbolic benefits reaped daily from another embalmed corpse in present-day China: the one enshrined in the mausoleum on Tiananmen square. Although some may choose not to see it, Mao’s portrait continues to adorn Tiananmen Gate, as well as banknotes of all denominations in the latest series, issued in 1999. Mao-style or Mao-language, a particular form of political rhetoric in which most of the current leadership was trained, continues to exert undeniable influence in the political and more largely in the social arena, especially in the now pervasive discourse of pre-1949 victimisation that has become China’s national narrative. In the same way, Mao has remained an inexhaustible topic in intellectual debate, in successive incarnations as de-maoisation, parody, commodification, nostalgia, instrumentalisation, and rehabilitation, phenomena in turn studied by China scholars around the world. …

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Bibliographical reference

Sebastian Veg, « Editorial », China Perspectives, 2012/2 | 2012, 2-3.

Electronic reference

Sebastian Veg, « Editorial », China Perspectives [Online], 2012/2 | 2012, Online since 30 June 2012, connection on 25 September 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Sebastian Veg

Director of the CEFC.

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